You’ve spent hours making your yard beautiful. It was praiseworthy until a few days ago. Suddenly mounds of dirt appeared everywhere. You also see lines of pushed up soil. When you step on one, it collapses. Moles have taken up residence. They’re there because your efforts in enriching the soil and keeping it watered have created a home for all kinds of underground life, including earthworms. A mole looks all those tasty worms and insects as a buffet you’ve provided for its benefit. Now you want to know how to get rid of moles, and you prefer not to ruin your yard doing so. Keep reading for our tips on eliminating moles.
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How Can I Control Moles?
Moles dig. They constantly dig tunnels in search of food. Sometimes they use each tunnel repeatedly, and sometimes the tunnel is only used once. It all depends on how much food they find. Those tunnels tend to be shallow. The raised lines in your yard are the feeding tunnels.
They also dig tunnels that are a foot or more underground. You rarely see these. Moles use the deeper tunnels as their main passageways. The shallow tunnels usually connect to the deeper tunnels, which are repeatedly used.
Along with the tunnels, you’ll also have mounds (mole hills) dotting your lawn. The mounds mark the entrance and exit holes to the feeding tunnels. You can usually see the holes although they may have some dirt in them. The mounds look like miniature volcanoes.
Find Their Main Passageways
The first step in yard mole removal is discovering their main tunnels.
Tips on how to find them include:
- Inserting a probe into a hole to see how far it goes in.
- Looking for raised lines that are fairly straight for a long distance.
- Looking for tunnels that connect two mole hills.
- Looking for tunnels along fences or borders.
Once you discover a main tunnel, you can then decide the best way to remove the inhabitants. To learn about yard mole removal, see this page.
Five methods are used to get rid of ground moles.
Each has advantages and disadvantages. You can learn how to get rid of moles naturally in this article.
Moles are insectivores rather than rodents, and they don’t eat plants. They range in size from 6 – 12 inches long and weigh less than a pound.
- Dark-colored fur,
- Pointed noses,
- Needle-like teeth,
- Feet that are wider than they are long.
Although you can’t see them, they do have eyes and ears that are hidden by their fur. More mole facts are available here.
Traps kill moles quickly, but only one mole one at a time. Experts recommend setting many traps, one at each mole hole you can find. That’s expensive, but by morning you’ll have a lot of dead moles.
Some of the baits promise to work within 24 hours. Like the traps, you’ll need to put bait in every mole hole you find.
Moles like healthy lawns. Worms, grubs, and insects all keep your soil producing beautiful grass. Those critters also provide tasty meals for moles. The best way to remove pests like moles is to set traps designed for them, as traps won’t damage the soil or your grass.
Putting water in mole holes won’t do you any good. Moles like water and some species can even swim. Making sure you have good drainage in your yard can keep moles from setting up housekeeping because they like moist soil.
Some homeowners prefer relocating live moles rather than killing them. For information on catching moles, read this article.
What Are Good Methods
Homeowners often choose to kill moles as a way to remove the pests. Your choice will depend on where you live and how extensive the mole population is. Some methods are simply unsafe if you have children or pets.
Your choices include:
- Baits– Earthworms are a mole’s favorite meal. You can bait a trap with live earthworms if you’re so inclined. Most homeowners prefer to purchase poison baits. Some baits come in the shape of earthworms filled with poison. Despite their appearance, moles are not rodents and rodent baits don’t kill them.
- Traps – Many experts consider trapping to be the most efficient way to eliminate moles. Some states either ban all types of animal traps or only allow certain kinds. You will also need to consider the danger to children and pets if any part of the trap is above ground. Once you have located an active tunnel, set the trap of your choice according to the directions. Some traps will fit completely inside the hole. Those are the safest but can be a little more difficult to set.
- Fumigation – Smoke bombs are used to get rid of moles by gassing them. Results are mixed, as smoke bombs are very successful for some homeowners and ineffective for others. If you choose this method, try to locate the mole nest and gas it. Otherwise, repeat applications in the main tunnels are usually necessary. You can purchase fumigants for killing moles which are effective but must be used exactly according to the directions. Hooking up a hose to funnel vehicle exhaust fumes into a mole hole is definitely not a recommended practice.
- Repellents – You can purchase mole repellents in liquid or granulated form. Most contain castor oil in varying percentages and are not safe to use around children or pets. Other products repel moles with ingredients and scents they find unpleasant. If you prefer not to kill moles, repellents are a humane way to make them move on.
- Insecticides – Moles eat insects. In one way of thinking, getting rid of insects in a good way to get rid of moles. Insecticides will kill the bugs near the surface of your yard, but that only makes the moles dig more and deeper. Eventually, they will move on to where food is easier to find, but your yard will suffer extensive damage before then.
If you don’t mind dealing with dead moles deposited on your doorstep, you can always let your dog or cat catch the varmints.
Repelling moles is the ultimate way of controlling them. If they never invade your property, you don’t have to deal with how to kill moles, especially when it comes to applying toxic products.
If you don’t mind doing a little digging yourself, you can make an effective barrier that will work for more than moles. You can buy fine mesh hardware cloth or woven wire at any hardware store. Get 24-inch width and length of your yard. Bury it a foot deep and bend the bottom out so that you have an L-shaped barrier.
You may find it easier to plant flowers that moles don’t like.
If you don’t have children or pets around, you can plant castor beans. Castor beans are attractive to children and highly poisonous. There’s more information here on mole repellents.
As with most things, home remedies are the least expensive way to get rid of moles in your yard. The tradeoff is that home remedies can be slower to work than commercial products are.
Home remedies people have used successfully include:
- Castor oil – various castor oil recipes are in use. Most have you blend 1/4 to 1/2 cup castor oil with a couple tablespoons of soap to make a concentrate. Add the concentrate an ounce at a time to a gallon of water and pour the solution in mole holes. Popular soaps are Murphy’s Oil Soap and Dawn dishwashing detergent.
- Mulch – place mulch in mole holes and bury it around the perimeter of your property to repel the invaders.
- Dry ice – dry ice suffocates moles with carbon dioxide emissions
- Vibrations – garden spinners or other vibratory devices can annoy moles enough to make them move.
- Fill the holes – moles like to dig dirt. They don’t like digging other materials, like gravel or rocks. Filling their holes with hard-to-dig materials makes them find easier places to live.
- Essential oils – soak cotton balls with eucalyptus or mint essential oil and stuff the balls in the mole holes. Moles have zero tolerance for strong smells.
For more DIY mole removal tips, check this page.
Owls are predators of moles and rodents. You can attract owls to your property by adding a nest box to a nearby tree. Snakes also like to eat moles. Seek expert advice on attracting and maintaining a snake population.
The Best Mole Control Products
A huge variety of mole control products is available in garden shops, hardware stores, and online.
These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Victor, Talpirid, and Wire Tek brand traps are highly recommended. You must wear gloves to avoid getting your scent on the trap.
- Tomcat, Talpirid, and Sweeney’s baits all contain bromethalin, a deadly poison. The poison is enclosed in earthworm shapes which you drop in mole holes or bury in the ground.
- Giant Destroyer, Underground Exterminator, and Revenge brand are smoke bombs designed to kill a variety of pests, including moles.
- Mole Scram, MoleMax, and Repellex are granulated mole repellents. The primary ingredients are castor oil and other oils.
- Whole Control, Sweeney’s, and Shotgun Repels All are castor oil-based liquid mole repellents.
- Talstar, Whole Control, and insecticides containing permethrin will kill most of the insects and grubs that moles like to eat.
None of these products are recommended for use in areas where children and pets play. This article provides more information about moles and castor oil.
Although there are lots of mole traps available, they are primarily one of the two basic types: scissor traps; and spear traps. Scissor traps, sometimes called cinch traps or choke traps, clamp around the mole’s body. Spear traps, which are also known as harpoon traps or plunger traps, pierce the mole’s body.
Spear traps can be easier than scissor traps to set, but work the best in sandy soils. Both kinds of traps have triggers that you must cock. Instructions for each brand will explain where in the tunnels or holes the traps work the best. Some have release mechanisms that allow you to remove the dead bodies easily.
Are There Fast Ways?
A fast-acting bait is often the quickest way to get rid of moles. Any bait that contains bromethalin is effective. Baits made with zinc phosphide are advertised to kill moles within a few hours. Some products are forbidden or restricted in certain states.
Mole baits cannot be used in vegetable gardens or other plants you’ll be eating. You can purchase a tool designed to drop baits into the mole holes to minimize the chances of children or pets consuming them.
What Are the Most Effective Ways to Remove Moles?
Experts say that trapping is the most effective way to get rid of moles. It’s also humane, as the moles die instantly if the traps have been set properly. Some traps are complicated to set safely. They also have to be placed in the right location. Some are placed in the tunnels, and some are placed in the mole holes.
It’s disheartening to see a lawn in which you’ve labored for hours turned ugly by moles. It doesn’t matter then that moles are eating grubs or insects that could also ruin your grass, or that they’re aerating the soil. You want them gone. The safest and most humane way to get rid of moles is to do your best to repel them. But if repelling doesn’t work, then you have little choice but to kill them. The best method of eradicating moles is mostly a matter of personal preference and experimentation to find what works for you.